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Lands for Parks, Public Amenities and Municipal Reserves

Dedicated lands are for parks, open spaces and other public amenities.

Types of dedicated land:

  • buffer strips;
  • environmental reserves;
  • municipal reserves; and
  • walkways.

Municipalities and the approving authority determine the need for and location of dedicated lands during the review of subdivision applications. In certain cases, dedication may be deferred or a monetary settlement arranged in lieu of dedication.

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1. Provision and Ownership

Anyone subdividing land must provide without compensation, dedicated lands to the municipality in which the land is located.

The provision, ownership, use and sale of dedicated lands is governed by The Planning and Development Act, 2007 (PDA) and The Dedicated Land Regulations, 2009 (Regulations) which must be consulted for details.

The Director of Community Planning and the municipality in which a subdivision is located determine the type and location of dedicated lands during the review of a subdivision application. For subdivisions under the jurisdiction of a council or authority that has been declared an approving authority pursuant to section 13 of the PDA, this determination is made without the involvement of the Director of Community Planning.

Upon registration of title all dedicated lands become the property of the municipality in which they are located.

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2. Permitted Uses, Leases and Easements

All dedicated lands except walkways may be leased to any person or incorporated organization for the uses permitted within the Regulations. Lessees may be responsible for maintenance, liability and other items negotiated with the municipal council subject to compliance with the PDA and the Regulations.

Power, gas, telephone, water and sewer facilities may be located on any dedicated land if the land can still be used for its original purpose. Easement agreements may be registered on the title.

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3. Sale or Exchange

A council may propose selling municipal reserve land that is no longer needed or exchanging it for land of equal or greater value. Both the sale and exchange require a council to provide public notice, hold a public hearing and pass a bylaw which requires ministerial approval. A municipality that has been declared an approving authority under the PDA does not need to obtain ministerial approval.

The approved bylaw and related documents must be registered in the Land Registry to complete a sale or exchange.

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4. Dedicated Lands Account

A municipality must deposit all monies received in lieu of municipal reserve land to a dedicated lands account. The account must record all proceeds from:

  • sales or leases, 
  • accrued interest, and 
  • all payments made in lieu of municipal reserve dedication. 

A council may authorize expenditures from the account only to develop or purchase dedicated lands, or to upgrade or replace parks or public recreation facilities. Eligible land can be located in any municipality.  

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Dedicated lands have special designations on survey plans and titles. Each type should be consecutively numbered on each plan and adjoining plans.
(e.g. Buffer Strip MB1, Buffer Strip MB2, Buffer Strip MB3, and so on)

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6. Buffer Strips

These parcels are used for separating different land uses. For example, a buffer strip could separate residential and commercial areas, or residential lots from major roadways. New buffer strips are identified in subdivision plans as Buffer Strip MB#.

Buffer strips may be landscaped as a council requires or leased for horticultural or agricultural purposes.

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7. Environmental Reserves

Environmental reserve is land that may be environmentally sensitive or naturally hazardous for development. 

These parcels may contain:

  • ravines;
  • coulees;
  • swamps;
  • water courses;
  • wildlife habitat;
  • significant natural features;
  • land that is flood prone or unstable; 
  • land needed to help prevent pollution;
  • land needed to preserve a creek bank or lake shore; or
  • land needed to help protect against floods.

Before 1983, such land was surveyed as public reserve (see section 10). New plans must show environmental reserves as Environmental Reserve ER#.

An environmental reserve may be left in its natural state or developed as a public park while having regard as to why the land is environmental reserve.

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8. Municipal Reserves

Municipal reserves may be used for:

  • open space;
  • parks;
  • recreation facilities;
  • public buildings;
  • schools;
  • natural areas;
  • horticultural uses; and
  • agricultural uses.

The land may be leased for any of the permitted uses or for buildings or facilities owned by charitable corporations. New school sites must be accommodated on municipal reserve lands. Municipalities and school divisions may negotiate agreements for the joint use and maintenance of municipal reserves.

The location and suitability of land to be dedicated as municipal reserve is subject to the approval of the Director of Community Planning or any council or authority that has been declared an approving authority pursuant to the PDA.

New municipal reserves are to be identified on survey plans as Municipal Reserve MR#. Every subdivision for residential purposes must designate 10 per cent of its gross area as municipal reserve; for other subdivisions the designation is five per cent. The gross area includes all the proposed lots, parcels, streets and lanes and the remainder of the land being subdivided if it cannot be further subdivided.

Exemptions from the municipal reserve requirement are made for:

  • large agricultural lots;
  • the first lot subdivided out of a quarter section;
  • parcels for utilities;
  • parcels for public use; and
  • re-subdivisions.

Cash-in-Lieu for Municipal Reserve

Sometimes dedication may be met by a monetary settlement in lieu of land. When this occurs, the subdivision applicant pays the municipality cash in lieu of providing land for municipal reserve. The payment must be equivalent to the value of the land that would have been dedicated.  

The subdivision applicant, the municipality and the approving authority must all agree on the value of the land. Typically, the municipality will recommend an amount and the applicant and the approving authority will agree to this amount. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the value of the land must be determined by a qualified appraiser selected and paid for by the municipality.

A payment must be made to the municipality before a subdivision is approved. All payments must be deposited to the municipality’s separate dedicated lands account. This account can only be used in accordance with the PDA and the Regulations, as outline in section 4 above.  

Deferral of the Municipal Reserve Requirement

The dedication of municipal reserve may be deferred if the subdivision application includes land to be further subdivided. This might be an area to be subdivided in stages or a new parcel to be subdivided into lots later.

When dedication is deferred, the subdivision approving authority must register an interest on the title to the land from which the reserve will be provided in the future. The interest informs future owners of this commitment. The interest may be discharged once the dedication is met by land, money, or a combination of the two. 

An interest can be registered on the title of land being created or on the title of other land to be subdivided.

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9. Walkways

These parcels are required for pedestrian paths through long blocks, at the end of cul-de-sacs or between crescents. New walkways are identified on survey plans as Walkway W#.

Walkways created before April 17, 1984 were surveyed like streets or roads and do not have identifiers on plans. These walkways are owned by the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure.

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10. Public Reserves

The Province of Saskatchewan owned all dedicated land until January 1, 1991 when The Planning and Development Act, 1983 was amended to transfer existing dedicated lands to municipalities. The amendment eliminated the need to reissue the titles. The province kept ownership of some dedicated lands in which a provincial interest existed by issuing a Minister’s Order that exempted certain lands from this transfer. Dedicated lands still owned by the Province are called public reserves and more information can be obtained from the Community Planning branch.

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